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Kristoffersen back to his best to win Levi slalom

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Helsinki (AFP)

Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen recovered from an uncertain World Cup start to take first place in the slalom at Levi, Finland, on Sunday.

The 25-year-old, who finished second at Levi last year and third overall, came back from fourth place after the first run to claim the top spot with an aggregate time of 1:48.55.

France's Clement Noel was quickest on the first run but failed to hold on to his top spot, finising in second, 0.09 seconds behind the Norwegian.

Switzerland's Daniel Yule took third place with 1:48.73.

"I almost lost it on the flat but I definitely won it on the steep," said Kristoffersen.

"It's still possible to ski better but I was charging down the piste for sure.

"It was really good after the disappointment in Soelden but we didn't stress after Soelden because we know the work that has to be done so we just keep on pushing."

The result puts Kristoffersen back on a winning course after a disappointing start to the season which saw him place 18th in Soelden after an error on his second run.

He claimed his second reindeer -- the traditional winner's trophy which is kept and looked after in Lapland throughout the year -- after clinching victory at Levi in 2014.

Places on this year's podium were very much up for grabs after the retirement last season of Austrian superstar Marcel Hirscher, who dominated the sport with eight consecutive overall World Cup titles.

- Arctic darkness -

But some of this season's hottest tips failed to shine in the Arctic darkness.

France's all-time most successful World Cup skier Alexis Pinturault, who won the giant slalom three weeks ago in Soelden and finished second overall last year, missed out on qualifying for the second run after ending the first leg 2.48 seconds behind the leader.

However the second-place finish for 22-year-old Noel reverses the fortunes of the French team at Levi last year, where both Noel and Victor Muffat-Jeandet missed podium finishes with errors at the same gate, metres from the finish line, within minutes of each other.

There was disappointment on Sunday for Britain's Dave Ryding, who looked set for a podium spot after finishing second in his first run, only to crash out metres from the finish line second time around, in an agonising repeat of events on the same Levi slope two seasons ago.

The 32-year-old finished eighth in the slalom last year in one of his best seasons in his decade-long career.

Organisers described the slope as 'optimal' ahead of the race, although visibility was poor with heavy snowfall and fog at the floodlit resort, where the sun currently rises for fewer than four hours a day.

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